Collecting Receivables

Subject: Collecting Receivables
From: Jonathan Leer <jleer -at- MV -dot- MV -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 17:05:56 -0500

I was wondering how other independent contractors might handle this type of
A writer is requested to "assemble" a publication from graphics prepared by
another contractor. The publication will be a user's guide to accompany a
"how-to" product. To see what the publication might look like and to limit
the project until everybody is comforable with each other, the client
requests a bid. Both the writer and client agree to a fixed bid for the first
rough draft. After the draft is presented, they mutually agree on an hourly

The project drags over 5 months because of delays in receiving new graphics
from the contractor. Meanwhile equipment rental expenses are also incurred
because of having to do Pagemaker work on a MAC (the writer is PC based).
The client changes the layout and requests additional copy and graphics changes.
Throughout this process the writer is billing the client weekly. The client
is too busy dashing off to tradeshows and meeting with distributors to pay any
of the bills. Unexpected problems arise at the end of the project, requiring
the publication to be converted over to a PC (at the client's request).
Rather than take the soft copy to a production house, the client insists on
printing a 600 DPI camera ready copy. The writer has a 300 DPI printer.
Working with the client's computer system delays are further compounded by the
wrong printer drivers - the client ends up spending a weekend at a production
house recompiling all of the graphics.

Finally, the project is printed. The writer is requested to meet with the
client at which time the client requests a discount (1/3) since the project is
hugely over cost of an average technical document of similar size.

The puzzled writer discusses the problem with his accountant and attorney.
The accountant suggests taking as much cash and taking either stock or product
for the remainder. The attorney suggests if no more work coming from this
client, bill the entire amount. Otherwise, determine a fair discount.

The writer is still at a loss for direction. The client has indicated that
there is no problem paying the original bill, but would prefer a fairer price
tag on the total project. The writer is not interested in taking product, and
although enticed by the stock, the client is in a highly competitive and risky
business. (BY the way the stock is closely held.)

The writer asked if the client would give him future work, and the client
indicated that it would depend on how the writer bills this project.

How would you handle this situation?

Your response is most helpful,
Jon Leer

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